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Some stats behind the doom and gloom
January 23, 2014 12:28 PM   Subscribe

Amid a number of recent articles (previously, previously, and previously) about the state of doctoral study in the United States, the NSF has released an interactive report compiling statistical analysis of broad trends about who earns a doctorates, which fields are attracting students, influences to obtain a degree, payment for that degree, and trends after graduation. The report is also available as a .pdf, with further explanation of what these numbers generally indicate.
posted by codacorolla (15 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
The emphasis is on S&E, but all areas are covered.

Including the amazing fact that in education the median time to doctorate (entry to graduate school to degree) in the 1990s was SIXTEEN YEARS. Down to twelve now, but seriously, what takes so long?
posted by skyscraper at 12:45 PM on January 23


Including the amazing fact that in education the median time to doctorate (entry to graduate school to degree) in the 1990s was SIXTEEN YEARS. Down to twelve now, but seriously, what takes so long?

I've taken a few classes in the Ed. department and most of the people in them are practicing teachers, working full-time while also pursuing a doctorate (with the goal, I assume, of becoming high level administrators). Among those I've talked to it wasn't uncommon to find people taking 1 class per semester.
posted by codacorolla at 12:53 PM on January 23 [5 favorites]


That time to completion sounds highly suspect to me. I've studied and taught in a number of graduate schools, in both education and in physical sciences, and Having encountered literally hundreds of graduate students and graduates, I've never encountered even ONE that took twelve years, much less the average taking that long.

In fact, many graduate programs in social sciences as well as physical sciences require the program to be completed within 10 years or so. I'm really surprised by these stats.
posted by darkstar at 1:00 PM on January 23


Ah, sorry...just noticed you specified in the education field only. I retract my comment, but am still somewhat surprised that even isolated to the Ed field it is this long, unless they are including interim/hiatus time between a masters and doctoral program...I guess that does make sense.
posted by darkstar at 1:02 PM on January 23


If I'm not mistaken the count from the time you first enter grad school to completion.
posted by oddman at 1:08 PM on January 23


The emphasis is on S&E, but all areas are covered.

No, they're not. Other fields are brought in occasionally for comparative purposes, but there is no comprehensive coverage of them. There's nothing wrong with that, but the FPP is misleading as written.
posted by yoink at 1:11 PM on January 23


I did not find it misleading or confusing. YMobviouslyVs.
posted by rtha at 1:21 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


I mean, I was a little surprised that non-S&E data was included, given that this comes from the NSF. So, yay.
posted by rtha at 1:22 PM on January 23


Including the amazing fact that in education the median time to doctorate (entry to graduate school to degree) in the 1990s was SIXTEEN YEARS. Down to twelve now, but seriously, what takes so long?

When I was in grad school our caps were far shorter than that. We were funded via teaching assistant-ships and tuition waivers for median program completion time. 2 years for a 1 year masters and 4 years for a 3 year phd. I believe the cutoff for phd completion was 6 years without serious extenuating circumstances.
posted by srboisvert at 1:37 PM on January 23


Count me in on the skepticism regarding the time-to-completion numbers. In particular, I find it extremely hard to believe that the median in engineering is seven years and has been since 1992 (Fig. 3E).
posted by Mapes at 1:46 PM on January 23


"Graduate school entry" means the start of the Master's degree, right? There's nothing surprising about the idea of people doing a two-year MA, taking 5 years off from school, and then going back for the doctorate, especially in education. That's not that weird in the humanities, either.
posted by oinopaponton at 1:51 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


I find the times suspect as well. In the early nineties, we had a four-year national grant cap, a 5-year university funding cap (access to RA and TA employment) and they kicked you out of the program after 7. This was true for all disciplines, including social science and the humanities.
posted by bonehead at 2:07 PM on January 23


One of the graphs seem to be indicating that education PhD candidates pay a significantly larger portion of the cost from their "Own Sources."
posted by bastionofsanity at 2:47 PM on January 23


An education PhD is frequently a professional degree, the equivalent of a clinical psychology PhD. Both now frequently have their own classifications, Ed.D and Psy.D. As such the increased out of pocket (or often employer-matched) cost is not as surprising.
posted by monocyte at 2:54 PM on January 23


One of the graphs seem to be indicating that education PhD candidates pay a significantly larger portion of the cost from their "Own Sources."
But I suspect that "own sources" includes tuition reimbursement from their school districts.
posted by kickingtheground at 4:17 PM on January 23


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